Star Trek Beyond review – Kirk and crew back for another bold and exciting adventure in space

by | 22 Jul 2016 | Film Reviews

‘The crew of the Enterprise having left Earth venture into unchartered space to explore a strange new world.’

This year marks the 15th anniversary of Star Trek. It’s hard to believe what started out as a standard science fiction television series would grow and explode into a multi-media phenomenon. After the original series, this world and these characters eventually spun into feature films and various other TV shows exploring other crews and storylines that were all interconnected and living within the same universe, all this decades before Marvel had the same idea. What better way to celebrate this momentous occasion than watching the latest in the rebooted film series, Star Trek Beyond.

It was an ingenious idea back in 2009 when J.J. Abrams took the reins of Star Trek. Instead of doing a straight up prequel of the original characters he used time travel to literally reboot the series and create a unique timeline in which you wouldn’t have to worry about continuity issues. So after the misstep of Star Trek Into Darkness (2013) where Abrams basically remade Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), Star Trek Beyond tells an original story and utilises that alternate timeline.

Set three years into the Enterprise’s deep space mission, the story follows the crew as they answer a call for help only to have their ship attacked and destroyed. Left stranded and separated on an unknown planet. Under threat from a mysterious enemy who has it in for the Federation, Kirk and his team must find each other quickly and stop him from wiping out countless lives. It’s a good old fashioned adventure film and Justin Lin is confidently able to maintain a sense of high stakes and seriousness while also balancing that and making sure there’s still a big emphasis on creating a sense of fun and entertainment.

Simon Pegg’s and Doug Jungs script also boldly takes the characters out of their comfort zones and has them isolated from each other on a strange planet. It’s rather refreshing considering the bulk of Into Darkness was contained within various space crafts. It also gives us a chance to see some different character dynamics as certain members of the crew are paired off with each other while stranded. The highlight being the coupling of Bones and Spock who have some great back and fourth’s which certainly adds to the humour, almost making you wish they would do a spin-off with just those two characters working together to solve crimes. Zachary Quinto also is very adept in showing the humanity of Spock. He’s a far more emotional character than he’s predecessor and you can really see his internal struggle of which part of his heritage he wants to honour more.

In truth, it’s not just Quinto but all the central cast do excellent work. They are all very comfortable in their roles by now and have great chemistry with each other, making it easy for us to get invested and care what happens to these people. Chris Pine’s version of Kirk continues to be a stand out. We’ve really seen him mature and grow over these three films and he does a good job of showing that evolution of the character.

Unfortunately, with such a big ensemble some characters outside of the main leads are left underdeveloped. Even Zoe Saldana’s Uhura isn’t given that much to do and Idris Elba’s big bad, Krall, feels one dimensional until the third act were his motivations are made more clear. Other than that he gives a great menacing performance through those prosthetic’s and real physicality making him very intimidating and a fearsome antagonist for the Enterprise crew.

As the director of some of the Fast & Furious films, Lin certainly doesn’t skimp on the action. From that early set piece where the Enterprise is first attacked, which seems never ending, the action never lets up. It’s very much a Star Trek for the 21st Century where spectacle has become an important part of our viewing experience. In fact, similar to the Bourne films, Lin uses the action to propel the story forward with very little of characters standing around and spewing out exposition, although this does mean that some plot points do fall between the gaps or are quickly rushed over, giving some uncertainty of what’s going on at times.

Other than that, the action is well handled. Lin pulls us right into the action, especially with the aerial dogfights where the camera’s thrown all over the place making for a disorientating experience. Visual effects are also great as well with a great job in seamlessly blending the CGI with the practical effects. You’ll be having so much fun that you won’t even mind that this is the third time the Enterprise has been destroyed on film (and that doesn’t even include the few times on the various TV shows).

‘Lin has proved himself with Star Trek Beyond that he is more than capable of taking over the reins of this much beloved franchise.’

Other than a couple of plot issues and one or two underdeveloped characters, it’s a fun and exciting film with plenty to enjoy. In truth, after the misstep of Into Darkness Lin has been able to put the series back on course with this great instalment in the rebooted universe and it’s a worthy tribute to Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary.

David Axcell

Film Critic

David has quite a broad taste in film which includes big budget blockbusters and small indie films; including International and Arthouse cinema. As long as it’s good in that particular genre, he’ll watch anything.

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